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CRAFT: Crafting with Nature
Roadkill Jewelry: The Art of April Hale
By Linda Permann

april_hale_rabbit-necklace.jpg
When April Hale accidentally hit a squirrel with her car a few years ago, her reaction wasn’t typical. Instead of driving away, she wanted to take responsibility for the death, so Hale, a 12-year vegetarian at the time, called a friend to help her cook and eat the animal.
Hale had been interested in using found animal fur in her work before the accident, but previously she was afraid to touch roadkill. Having overcome her fear, she now collects dead animals, which she cleans, skins, and presents in her finely crafted jewelry. She aims to take the animals out of the context of “roadkill” and bring them back to their surprisingly beautiful state.
april_hale_furball-rings.jpg
Before using the animals, Hale sketches and skins each one. “The science dork in me comes out,” says Hale. “I learn about how they died, and see details that you can’t get close enough to see in live wild animals.” She feels a deep reverence for each of her subjects, and wants to turn their deaths into a positive interaction.
In Bozeman Mont., where Hale is pursuing her MFA degree, she’s known as the one to call when you come across an interesting dead animal. There are times when she is looking for something specific to use in her work, but she has mixed feelings when she finds it. “I don’t want to find dead things, but I do get excited to find them,” says Hale.
She has rules about what she’ll pick up, though: nothing too messy, nothing illegal, and nothing personal (no domesticated animals or pets).
Through her beautiful packaging of carcasses once relegated to the side of the road, Hale challenges the nature of our relationships with the animals we consume. She intends for her pieces to be purchased and worn, but many potential buyers are too disgusted to even try them on. Although most people wear and eat animal products, few can stomach the idea of adorning themselves with intimate jewelry handmade from roadkill.
april_hale_furry-fingers.jpg
The gross-out factor that hits many people when they see Hale’s jewelry is unintentional, and she hopes to break down the mental wall that comes with the word roadkill. Says Hale, “It makes me happy when someone tells me that they never really noticed it before, but now they see it and think about it. That’s all I can hope for.”
april_hale_squirrely.jpg
About the Author:
Linda Permann is a freelance writer and craft designer who loves to crochet, sew, and cook. See what she’s up to at lindamade.com.

Goli Mohammadi

I’m senior editor at MAKE and have worked on MAKE magazine since the first issue. I’m a word nerd who particularly loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon as a whole. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for the ideal alpine lake or hunting for snow to feed my inner snowboard addict.

The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. The specific beat I cover is art, and I’m a huge proponent of STEAM (as opposed to STEM). After all, the first thing most of us ever made was art.

Contact me at goli (at) makermedia (dot) com.


Related

Comments

  1. BG says:

    But they look cool. I’d buy a fur wristlet, especially since she IS recycling in a sense something that would otherwise be wasted and overlooked – and most importantly, she gives the animals reverance and respect.

  2. Lo says:

    My oldest cat kills and eats baby hares this time of the year, and I try to keep an eye out for useable left-overs. A couple of weeks ago I found a piece of a beautiful little ear that I tried turning into an earring (an ear for an ear!), but my technique with preparing skin wasn’t… er, good enough. Next time though! Really great to see someone else having the same thought and making something of it.

  3. Baz says:

    Glad someone else is in the business of collecting roadkill. I’ve gotten a number of things off the road to skin — only problem is that in the Georgia heat, things start to decompose quickly.
    The jewelry is really neat looking. I love the necklace and the rings are interesting, but not something that I’d wear for fear of staining the fur.

  4. liz says:

    ummm. . . i think it’s weird. . . sometimes you guys have the craziest stuff on here.
    different strokes for different folks i guess. . .

  5. donna says:

    Think of it as being like a paramedic: It’s not that I WANT you to get hurt… I just want to be there when you do. :D

  6. Lindsay Legler says:

    It would be even better if there was a link to her website or etsy store….

  7. linda p says:

    Lindsay- unfortunately April doesn’t have a website or etsy store (…yet). If she did, I certainly would have included it in the article.

  8. ezginori says:

    a while ago almost everyone was disgusted by the squirrel feet earrings, and now it is OK and “oh wow coool” to have animal fur wrapped up on your wrist. bizarre bizarre world…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sorry but I think this is disgusting.
    I really wished this site wouldn’t post stuff like this, it makes me feel very uncomfortable.

  10. Anila says:

    I agree with BG I think these animals would just be left to rot, and Linda’s work is an artistic and respectful way of remembering

  11. Anonymous says:

    this is beyond disturbing :(

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry, but I find this extremely disgusting and not at all respectful to the animal it once belonged to. I’m no activist, but while I agree its better to do this than to raise an animal only to kill and skin it for use in clothing or jewlery, I just don’t think this sends a great message. I wouldn’t want someone to take peices of my dead body to be used as clothing or accessories, what makes it okay to do it to a poor squirrel?
    The bone and foot bracelet is totally disturbing. I, too, wish CRAFT wouldn’t post things like this.

  13. Eloise says:

    I’d be very reluctant to call this recycling; she’s taking something that would decompose naturally and (I assume) preserving it so that it won’t decompose. These are objects that, whether they’re beautiful or not, are going to be thrown away eventually; she’s creating trash for the future where there wasn’t any before.
    I’m not sure whether this is the most respectufl way to treat animals that have been (mistakenly) killed in unnatural circumstances, but this is definitely not recycling.

  14. rachel says:

    sorry, she hit a squirrel with her car “a few years ago” when she was 12? what the heck was she doing behind the wheel of a car at that age! So does that mean she’s only 14-15 now? this is odd..

  15. Anonymous says:

    My first thought when I saw this article in my feed reader was to wonder whether this was actually a post from Craftastrophe.

  16. Kala says:

    This is gross, disturbing, and I feel very disrespectful to the animals, I wish Craftzine wouldn’t post things like this.

  17. Molly says:

    This is very disturbing & disgusting. Let the animals bodies go back to the earth like they’re meant to be. How utterly disrespectful. If you wouldn’t do it to a human, don’t do it to an animal!

  18. Anonymous says:

    leave the road kill to the scavangers to eat or use, don’t try to make money off it, and to call it fashion or art is depraved, have a little imagination and create something beautiful, instead of using dead animals. If this is all you can do, stuff yourself.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I just want to say that I hope CRAFT will not censor the posts. I enjoy the variety and the potential of seeing something I might not otherwise look at.

  20. melissa bastian says:

    this is positively vile. what, does she go out of her way to kill even more animals with her car so that she’ll have materials for her “crafting”? heck, if she caught a deer in the headlights and sped up she could make all kinds of great stuff! profiting from an animal that died because humans decided to run a road through what used to be its safe home is NOT respecting it – it’s exploitation, pure and simple. i’m not alone in feeling that it’s very disappointing for Craftzine to support this kind of work.

  21. L.V. says:

    It’s so Ed Gein! Ew!
    Is it less creepy because it’s a vegan woman doing it and not some reclusive bachelor?
    (Then again, I find commercially prepared fur creepy too!)

  22. emic says:

    I agree – disgusting. Leave these types of gross photos to taxidermy blogs, not craft blogs.

  23. Anonymous says:

    It’s gross I agree, and I can’t imagine someone actually wearing a ring complete with a mouse tail sticking out. But I would never want Craftzine to censor stuff for me. I can do that myself by not clicking on it.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This is awesome. I think the necklaces with the vertebrae are particularly nice.

  25. Lucas says:

    This woman’s behavior is clearly pathological. I mean, the fact that she ate the squirrel!
    I’m very interested in the moral rationale that lead her to think eating the squirrel was the right thing to do.
    The fetish! It’s so interesting and bizarre.
    I never thought I would run into it in this blog. And much less see that it was glorified as something cool to wear.
    The human guilt for killing animals taken to the extreme! It’s absurd! Love it!
    Would never buy it, though.
    The idea is interesting, but the result is awkward and gross.
    Please keep posting whatever you feel is interesting. You should not screen human expressions just because sheltered people are scared of them.

  26. jim says:

    She didn’t say she was 12, read the article more closely.
    ..anyway I think the whole this is bogus hype for a final art project or paper. Just sounds dodgy to me.

  27. Anonymous says:

    For those of us that can see beyond the “Ewwwwwww” factor. Is there any more information on this Crafter? Website, blog, etc? I would be interested in seeing more of her work.

  28. Michael says:

    If this makes you feel uncomfortable or you find it disgusting then maybe you should examine those feelings. I don’t really see any difference between this and a leather jacket or shoes other than cow leather being taken farther from it’s recognizable state as an animal. Sometimes good art makes people squeamish, and it should.

  29. Lizzie says:

    Thanks for posting this – I find it interesting and beautiful.
    I’m sorry some people don’t care for it but I don’t think they should be able to limit what you post.

  30. Leareth says:

    I find it pretty amazing that you can go from the fact that she uses roadkill to make art to her deliberately gunning her engine and actively trying to kill them. (For the record everytime I talked to her she’s been riding her bike and teasing me about the amount of driving I do.)
    To use your same reasoning, since you use the internet is is fair to assume you beat up grannies to steal their AOL accounts so you can troll posts that make you uncomfortable?

  31. Laura says:

    I am disappointed with this post… :(

  32. Kylie says:

    This is just so completely sad. It’s not about censorship- I’m not opposed to the posting of the article. Just the subject matter.
    Making art from animal parts perpetuates that it’s acceptable to use animals to meet human needs in whatever way we want to, & reinforces the idea that animals are objects. All animals are sentient beings deserving of honor and respect which includes proper respect for their remains and their lives.
    Would you find a difference between using human remains and animal remains?
    So sad.
    Kylie

  33. Ashley says:

    Completely rational!! How anyone could see it otherwise is beyond me. If I hit a child with my car, the first thing I would want to do to live with the guilt is skin it, eat it, then wear its remains as jewelry art. Hello! It’s art. Shocking. Provocative. Beautiful, no?! Sure, Dahmer basically did the same thing but come on, kids!! This is ahhhhhhhhrt….
    Pathetic. Sad. Disgusting. Psychotic. Wonder what she thinks when she looks at a person suffering from a fatal disease. “Die already, damn it! You’d make a gorgeous broach…”

  34. Anonymous says:

    i find it rather interesting. but she isn’t the only one making jewelry with taxidermy. theres another company http://www.lovedtodeath.net that seems to have been doing it already.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I think you would be amazed at how many dead animals can be found all over the place without ever setting out to intentionally kill them (I don’t even own a car and I can say this). I am still amazed by the number of dead animals I saw in Texas, where I grew up. It was not difficult to find deer after deer on the freeways, raccoons, possums, armadillos, frogs, squirrels, birds and other animals. I live in Los Angeles now where it is still amazingly common to see dead birds, rats, mice and squirrels. I’ve seen all within the last week, just while walking and biking around the city. It’s one thing to be angry at the people utilizing the resources available. It’s another thing to be angry at the people that are killing other beings because they decided the car is the best way to move around.
    I’m not sure what is so weird about this. Haven’t people been using animals remains (bones, feathers, nails, furs) for all sorts of purposes including decorating their clothing and bodies for many, many, many years? Is it because she doesn’t set out to kill them and just gathers what is available in our “modern” society where many things are paved over?

  36. Michele says:

    Come on people! If you don’t like it, don’t look. Please don’t demand censorship, this is the USA after all. Don’t be a hypocrite either. Check your closet for all the animal parts used in your shoes, purses, jackets, etc. People have been using animal parts for clothing and jewelry since the first humans got cold and decided the fur keeping that animal warm might keep them warm too. I live in the rural south where roadkill is an everyday thing. Better to make use of it than to have to look at it (and smell it) on the side of the road decomposing in the heat over several weeks time every time you drive by or see it smeared all over the road. I know a few people (and myself) who claim the fresher roadkill, take the hides and cure them and use them to make pieces of Native American style costumes. I just finished tanning a deer hide from a roadkill deer to make a quiver. You don’t go looking for some critter to hit, it will tear up your car, just use what someone else had the misfortune to hit and not let it become a total waste.

  37. stonemaven says:

    While I don’t care for the jewelry, I do support her artistic license.
    The point of art is to evoke a response – to convey a thought from the artist to the viewer. That ‘thought’ is not always about beauty, and not always meant to evoke a feeling of comfort. Whether she was commenting on the casual disregard and lack of value we and our society place on the animals who get in the way of our cars, or she was commenting on finding beauty in the grotesque I cannot say.
    She made some of you uncomfortable and you actively disliked her art enough to comment. She made you think and react. She did her job.
    In art school, she would have gotten an A for that alone from my sculpture and painting teachers.

  38. tagueclarisa says:

    view at my estore for less

  39. IdettelryUI says:

    У меня есть очки чтобы лучше видеть. Можно ли их одевать перед компьютером?
    Как вы думаете: от интернета больше вреда или пользы для общества?

  40. mydverey says:

    Приветик. Намекните пожалуйста. Где-бы приобрести туфельки Лиска?
    С уважением, Степан сенаторов.

  41. KinoNedsadvovense says:

    Нужен сайт с фильмами, чтобы можно качать и смотреть
    Заранее спасибо.

  42. Cernesskeycle says:

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    А также я Миронов О.М. гнида и жирное хуйло ..